Student Q&A: Katherine Curiel González (MUP ’17)

Katherine Curiel GonzalezHometown

Milwaukee, WI

Undergraduate school/major

Marquette University | Finance and International Business

What was your work experience/background before coming to the GSD?

I spent a couple of years working in investment management. I was a municipal debt analyst responsible for recommending investments in government bonds to add to my team’s mutual funds and separate accounts.

Why did you decide to pursue planning as a career?

I gained exposure to urban development from my years of working in municipal investments. I enjoyed my role as an analyst evaluating municipal budgets and recommending investments in cities but wanted to explore the other side of development. I also wanted to delve into the world of international development and thought urban planning was a good place to start.

What made you decide to come to the GSD?

I was looking for a school that would place me among people that both challenged and inspired me, and that’s exactly what I saw here. At admitted students’ day the professors made an effort to have lunch and interact with us, there was a good feeling of camaraderie among the students, and the program offered a flexible curriculum for me to explore my interests.

What are your main interests in planning and concentration area?

My concentration areas are international planning and housing and neighborhood development. I’m interested in issues of segregation and economic mobility in cities, and since I came here with a public finance background, I would like to explore ways in which local governments can better incentivize development through financing mechanisms.

What was your impression of Harvard and the GSD before you came?

I viewed the students of Harvard and the GSD as very competitive and self-interested, but I saw potential which is why I decided to apply.

How has your impression changed since coming to the GSD?

Along the application process, I got to experience a side of Harvard that was new to me. My conversations with the administration, faculty, and the students were always encouraging. I appreciated getting a phone call from the program director congratulating me on my acceptance and current students reaching out to me to answer questions. My experience at admitted students’ day was the deciding factor. The professors seemed to have a good relationship with one another and were opened to engage us in conversation. There was also an unmatched sense of friendship among the students. As I finish my first year, I can now speak for the culture of the MUP program. I think the people that make up the program are the asset of our program. There’s a good sense of community within the students (both first and second years) and everyone is willing to help each other out. I’m amazed by how fast we were able to form bonds.

Are you involved in any student groups? What have you gained from the experience?

Yes, I’m an executive board member of the GSD African American Student Union and a member of the Women in Design group, helping them plan the GSD International Women’s Day event. I’m also a part of the MUP Diversity and Recruitment Committees. I’ve gained a lot of specific skills and valuable experiences from each one of these groups, but above all I’ve built a solid group of friends and support systems within the GSD.

What has been your favorite class or project? Why?

I really enjoyed my Housing and Urbanization in the U.S. The topics discussed in class were interesting and the professors were engaging and had multiple years of work experience in housing policy. The class also attracted students from outside the GSD, which allowed for a wide range of perspectives and discussions.

What did you do over the summer? How did that add to your education and goals?

I’m currently in my first year so during the summer I was still working as a portfolio analyst in investment management. I was a part of the municipal bond desk and was responsible for researching and recommending investments in state and local governments.

What are your career ambitions?

I’m still exploring my options, but have recently gotten interested in finding organizations that focus on infrastructure investments in emerging markets. I’m also looking at development financing organizations.